When it comes to the oil and gas industry, bigger is always better. This statement applies not only to the equipment used for site preparation and production, and the amount of usable natural resources removed from the ground—but also to the metal containers that are required to store the radioactive waste material that naturally occurs during exploration and drilling.

Niagara Energy Products Corp. (NEPC) has specialized in custom metal fabrication since 2001, including the rolling, machining and welding of such containers for North American and overseas companies. All of the containers are welded using MIG, TIG, GMAW (gas metal arc welding) or SAW (submerged arc welding) technology that meets CSA N285.0 (ASME Section III) standards.

In 2017, NEPC purchased two automated welding lines from IRCO Automation Inc. to help meet increased demand for containers up to 7 feet in diameter. One line (delivered in the spring) performs GMAW, while the other (delivered in the fall) performs SAW. Both lines feature an integrated weld-manipulator system that precisely brings the weld head to the joint and keeps it there during welding, thereby improving production and operator safety.

IRCO offers several manipulator systems. One of the newest is the portable column-and-boom PortaWelder for applications where floor space or crane time is at a premium. Available in SAW, GMAW and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) configurations, the system’s vertical mast and telescoping boom enable precise placement of the weld head over the weldment on tanks up to 8 feet in diameter.

Standard boom height is 44 to 88 inches, although maximum height can be increased 12 to 48 inches with optional bolt-on mast risers. The mast provides 360-degree rotation and includes a positive clamping lock. Additional accessories include cross-slides (powered or manual),
oscillators, camera systems, laser diodes, out-rigger base stabilizers, wire spools and wire conduit systems.

The telescoping boom (powered or manual) has a stroke of 31 inches and provides up to 58 inches of clearance from the edge of the system’s wheeled base. Mounted on the movable platform are the welding power supply, the operator interface, water cooler, flux equipment, gas bottles and a handlebar that allows an operator to easily transport the machine. 

IRCO SAW systems produce repeatable welds regardless of weld length. The systems are self-propelled, feature a cast aluminum body and allow for quick setup and disassembly.
Control capabilities include LED speed readout, weld engage and disengage, forward-stop-reverse and multiple drive configurations (two wheel, four wheel, steerable).

Last year, IRCO designed a steel beam welding system for a different company in the oil and gas industry. The system features two column-and-boom manipulators that simultaneously run six GMAW torches (three on each manipulator) to perform fillet welds on both sides of large steel I-Beams. These beams measure up to 3 inches thick, 8 feet high and 65 feet long, and weigh as much as 30 tons.

The challenge for IRCO was designing the system with modular components that can be repurposed to other mechanized welding applications as needed. For more information on weld manipulators, SAW and other custom welding systems, call 905-336-2862 or visit www.ircoautomation.com.